Many companies still use social media as a way to blast and broadcast their message. This is still disruptive and interruptive marketing. If you want clients and customers to listen to you, listen to them. Social media is social for a reason. Use it to communicate and build relationships.

Communication is a 2-way street. To be effective, there must be a speaker AND listener. Listening is a sign of respect to your audience. It shows that you value their opinion. Most people know how to speak in the “social media world (tweet, post, blog, etc.). ” The big challenge is how do you listen.

Listening is an active role that you must take when forming relationships with social media. My clients frequently ask me what to do if someone says something to me on Facebook or Twitter. My advice: respond.

  • Who? – Determine to whom you should listen. Yes, listen to your clients (a given). However, there are also subject matter experts in your field to whom you should listen. Engage (don’t sell to) those thought leaders.  Share their information on Facebook. Retweet their tweets on Twitter (that’s a mouthful). If you listen to them, they will probably listen to you.
  • Keywords – Nordstrom does a great job of listening their customers and prospective customers. When I tweeted that I was “thinking” about buying a pair of shoes, they told me about an upcoming sale (saved me $40). Make a list of the top 10 (at least) keywords for your industry. Use Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to listen for those words. Listen for your company name and that of your competition.
  • Strategy – It might sound odd, but have a “listening strategy.” Build a system around how you will listen. When will you be online listening? If something positive is said about you, how will you respond? Something negative? What tools will you use to listen? It’s not enough to know what these are; write it down. Incorporate listening into your marketing strategy.

As listening is key to successful personal relationships, it is also fundamental to the relationships you build online. Just talking on Twitter to tell people how great you are will not build a strong following. Listening is half of effective communication – even with social media.

Scientifically Speaking, of course.

Next Week: Social Media Roadmap